Why casting Margot Robbie as Barbie isn't a step backwards for body positivity

Margot Robbie has been cast as Barbie in the big screen adaptation [Photo: Getty]
Margot Robbie has been cast as Barbie in the big screen adaptation [Photo: Getty]

The rumours have been swirling for months but Margot Robbie has been officially confirmed to play Barbie in the big screen adaptation of the iconic doll.

With her blonde hair, blue eyes and ‘most beautiful woman in the world’ credentials, the 28-year-old Australian actress certainly seems to fit the mould. But, her casting has caused quite the buzz on social media – for a number of reasons.

For starters, Barbie creator, Mattel, has been making efforts to make the famous doll’s image much more inclusive of late by offering a wider variety of skin tones and body shapes.

Last March, to celebrate International Women’s Day, 17 new dolls were released to honour accomplished female role models.

From British Boxing Champion Nicola Adams to US film maker Patty Jenkins and prima ballerina Yuan Yuan Tan, the dolls were all inspired by brilliant women from diverse backgrounds and careers.

Then there’s the fact that Amy Schumer once held the role, until scheduling forced the actress to drop out of the project.

Though the body positive role model found herself on the end of body-shaming trolls when her casting was first announced, many were looking forward to the the big screen adaptation potentially putting a modern spin on the way beauty is tied up with identity.

Will the casting of Margot Robbie as Barbie be a step back for inclusivity? [Photo: Getty]
Will the casting of Margot Robbie as Barbie be a step back for inclusivity? [Photo: Getty]

So is it a U-turn on the makers’ behalf to return to type and cast Robbie in the role? Or a smart move to address inclusivity in a deeper way?

Certainly Robbie hopes to ensure viewers focus less on the doll’s outward appearance and more on the underlying empowering message Barbie represents, that it’s what is inside rather than outside that counts.

“Playing with Barbie promotes confidence, curiosity and communication throughout a child’s journey to self-discovery. Over the brand’s almost 60 years, Barbie has empowered kids to imagine themselves in aspirational roles from a princess to president,” Robbie told E! News in a statement.

“I’m so honoured to take on this role and produce a film that I believe will have a tremendously positive impact on children and audiences worldwide.”

The fact is that over the years Barbie has tried to encourage children to believe they can be anything they want to be, whether that’s a scientist, a doctor or a ballerina and with Robbie’s own diverse film credentials firmly in the bag, we can’t think of a better choice to nail the role.

Besides, how unfair would it have been to not give it to her based entirely on the way she looks?

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